By Michelle Delaney
Nomadic communities like Anab’s are leaving their villages in the thousands because of Somalia’s relentless drought.
Anab Salah (33) counts 25 sheep and goats. Only 25, she thinks. It’s a tiny amount compared to the 150 she owned before the drought struck. Anab’s family, like the rest of her community in Fiqifuliye village, lost most of their livestock to the worst drought that has hit in 20 years. They were forced to leave their nomadic life and move to another village for support.
Fiqifuliye village lies in the Sanaag in Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region of Somalia. Sanaag has been hit hard by several years of consecutive failed rains. The result has been two back-to-back droughts. Over 444,000 have been displaced in five short months across the country – some 16,000 in Sanaag region alone. Experts fear that if the situation doesn’t improve, famine will strike Somalia in the coming months. Last time famine struck Somalia, 260,00 people died.
Anab faced a serious challenge in the new village. Her financial problems were known to the local vendors, and they would not allow her to buy food and other basic items on credit. She wondered how she would feed her eight children.
“Our life has become so miserable since we lost our livestock,” said Anab. “We used to depend on the animals for everything, and now they are dead.”
Anab and other pastoralists in Fiqifuliye village faced similar challenges. Their family income reduced dramatically. Even a last resort of selling their only surviving animals was not an option; they were too emaciated and barely worth anything anymore.
A helping hand
The displacement of communities in Sanaag led to aid organizations setting up a series of displacement camps in the area. Anab and her community arrived in one such camp.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) runs an emergency food and water support programme in the camp. It’s supported by the UK’s Department for International Development. NRC selected 150 of the most in need families in the camp for assistance.
Hope was not lost for Anab and her family. A community committee identified them as one of the families in need of support. She was provided with cash assistance from an NRC grant. The cash provided allowed her to buy basic food and other basic commodities, and feed her family.
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council